Frogs shows signs of comeback from disease
"It's happening across a number of species,"
FROGS across Australia and the US may be recovering from a fungal disease that has devastated populations around the world.
"It's happening across a number of species," says Michael Mahony at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, who completed a 20-year study of frogs along the Great Dividing Range in Australia for the Earthwatch Institute. Between 1990 and 1998 the populations of several frog species crashed due to chytridiomycosis infection (chytrid) caused by the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, but Mahony's surveys suggest that the frogs are re-establishing.
Barred river frogs (Mixophyes esiteratus) disappeared, he says, but now up to 30 of the animals have returned to streams across Australia's Central Coast. The tusked-frog (Adelotus) and several tree frog species (Litoria) have also returned there. Ross Alford at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland, says tree frogs are also repopulating other areas of the state after their numbers nosedived. Some have even reached pre-infection levels.
In the US there are also signs of recovery. Roland Knapp at Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory at the University of California says mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosas) - once "driven virtually to extinction" - are returning. The big question is: are frogs now beating chytrid?